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Negotiation Style

What Negotiation Style do you have? - A business English activity

Madrid resident Christopher Wright presents his views on negotion styles. Do the activity first here: Negotiation Style Cloze Activity, or, if you prefer, simply read and listen to the article below:    MP3

Christopher Wright
Christopher Wright

Profesor de inglés de negocios y de inglés general imparte clases en empresas y a particulares en el centro de Madrid.
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What Negotiation Style do you have?

By Chris Wright                                

Vocabulary in italics can be found defined below.      

Films and media like to show that there is only one negotiation style that matters, a competitive style, where you win and the other person loses! But if that was always the case, how do negotiations break down? What are the reasons for people breaking agreements?

The Cambridge English dictionary defines a negotiation as, “To have formal discussions with someone in order to reach an agreement.”  And a long lasting agreement and commitment comes from cooperation.

Recent research by Professor G. Richard Shell from the prestigious Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, identified 5 common negotiation styles and how those styles interacted, but we’ll discuss that later. First let’s try to understand why it is important to know what mix of negotiation styles you have.

For most cultures of the world, the negotiation process can be divided into the following stages: preparation, information exchange, explicit bargaining, and commitment.

The greatest fear people have about negotiations is the fear of what they will lose. Other fears include a lack of alternatives, threats and time. These can all be greatly reduced from increasing your knowledge of the negotiation process and negotiation strategies.

Let's concentrate on the negotiation process: firstly preparation. How can you prepare an effective negotiation strategy if you don’t know how you will react under pressure, in different situations and conditions?

The answer is that you can’t unless you know your own negotiation style first.

Neither can you prepare effective responses to what the other person does in the negotiation without self-awareness.

If reaching an agreement in a negotiation is based on cooperation and cooperation is based on trust, then to be an effective negotiator you need to generate trust between yourself and the other person. Trust comes from being natural and being yourself, not from trying to be something you’re not, a fake. Once you’re aware of your negotiation style you know what can realistically be improved and what can’t. Trying to be competitive when you hate competition will make you appear fake and you’ll lose trust. Remember, you’re not that good an actor!

If you’re more aware of your own negotiation style, you become more aware of the other person’s negotiation style and also how different negotiation styles interact. Knowing what outcomes the interactions of different negotiations styles produces enables you to better choose the most effective negotiation strategy to reach an agreement with them.

Professor G. Richard Shell’s research identified 2 things.

Firstly, there are 5 negotiation styles and most people have a mix of these negotiation styles. What mix of negotiation styles are you? 

1.      Avoider: Hate conflicts and avoid them at all costs. Hence making an agreement with an Avoider very difficult.

2.      Compromiser: Their priority is to maintain a productive relationship. So they will make a compromise first, giving the other person what they want in order to reach an agreement and preserve the relationship.

3.      Accommodator: They like to resolve conflict by solving the other person’s problems. If the other person is also an accommodator then they return the favour and help solve their problems. If not, the other person takes and gives nothing in return.

4.      Competitor:  They like to win and be in control of the situation. They believe if they win, you lose.

5.      Problem Solver: The most imaginative thinkers who think about fair “win/win” solutions and greater solutions that “make the pie bigger.”

Secondly, what outcomes (Good or Bad) these negotiation styles produced when two people (A and B) interacted together in a negotiation.

  Avoider (B) Compromiser (B)

Accommodator (B)

Competitor (B)

Problem – Solver (B)

Avoider (A)






Compromiser (A)






Accommodator (A)






Competitor (A)






Problem –Solver (A)






His research showed that people who have the same negotiation style quickly understood each other and produced a “Good” outcome.  Contrary to popular opinion the “Competitor” produced more “Bad” outcomes than “Good” as most people thought they were difficult. A “Problem-Solver” negotiation style produced the best outcomes but is also the hardest to implement due to the complexity of most negotiations.

Finally if you don’t have a problem-solver negotiation style, don’t worry. Effective negotiating is as much about attitude as style. We can all learn, practice and adopt the habits of the most effective negotiators:

  • A willingness to prepare
  • High expectations
  • The patience to listen
  • A commitment to personal integrity
  • Activity - Vocabulary Exercise

    Match the expressions from the text to their meanings in this activity: Negotiation Styles Vocabulary Matching. Or simply read it here:

    Expressions from the Text

    1.   only one negotiation style that matters - the only important thing

    2.   breakdown - stop working or functioning

    3.   commitment - a strong belief in an idea

    4.   cooperation - to work together with someone

    5.   explicit bargaining - when people openly discuss an agreement

    6.   how you will react - what you will do when somebody does something

    7.   self-awareness - you understand and know about yourself

    8.   under pressure - when somebody or something is making you do something quickly

    9.   generate trust - create an environment where someone believes you and you believe them

    10.  being natural - being yourself

    11.  fake - false, not real

    12.  to become aware - you know something or begin to realise something

    13.  outcomes - results

    14.  make a compromise - an agreement where people accept less than they wanted

    15.  resolve conflict - solve a potential problem between two people

    16.  make the pie bigger - to make a total bigger, so that those who divide it both get more

    17.  contrary to popular opinion - the opposite idea in comparison to the majority

    18.  the hardest to implement - the most difficult to do

    19.  a willingness to prepare - the desire to prepare

    20.  commitment to personal integrity - you live your life in respect to your personal beliefs or ideas

    Expresiones del Texto

    El mismo vocabulario de la lista de arriba.

    1.   only one negociación style that matters - el único estilo de negociaciones que importa.

    2.   breakdown - dejar de funcionar

    3.   commitment - compromiso (con una idea)

    4.   cooperation - cooperación

    5.   explicit bargaining - negociaciones abiertas (tira y afloja)

    6.   how you will react - como reaccionarás

    7.   self-awareness - conocimiento sobre uno mismo

    8.   under pressure - bajo presión para hacer algo rápidamente

    9.   generate trust - crear un ambiente de confianza mutua

    10.  being natural - ser natural (no falso)

    11.  fake - (falso, no real)

    12.  to become aware - tomar conciencia

    13.  outcomes - resultados

    14.  make a compromise - un acuerdo en el que ambas partes aceptan menos de lo que querían.

    15.  resolve conflict - resolver conflictos

    16.  make the pie bigger – aumentar el botín (literalmente, la tarta) para que los que se lo repartan toquen a más.

    17.  contrary to popular opinion - una opinión que se opone a la de la mayoría

    18.  the hardest to implement – la más difícil de poner en práctica

    19.  a willingness to prepare - estar dispuesto a prepararse

    20.  commitment to personal integrity – compromiso con la integridad personal o los principios personales

    More Activities:

    Negotiation Style Comprehension Quiz
    Do you understand and remember the text? Test yourself!

    Put the words in the correct order
    With these examples using the main vocabulary points from the text.

    Negotiation Style Cloze Activity 1
    Fill in the gaps with the correct words in this exercise.

    Discussion Questions
    (Email me your answers to

    1. Do you think there are more or less than 5 common negotiation styles?
    2. In your opinion, what type of people (negotiation style) do you like to negotiate with? Why?
    3. When have you been most effective in negotiations?
    4. Describe your favourite negotiators?
    5. In your sector which negotiation style is the most typical? Why?
    6. Can you think of other habits of effective negotiators?

    Translation of the text

    ¿Qué tipo de negociador es usted?

    Image of activity

    Elementary Crossword 1(Cruzigramas para principiantes))

    Economist article crossword
    (Vocabulario de un artículo)

    From an article in Empire Magazine
    (Vocabulario de un artículo)

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